Week 8 – Norway and the Seychelles
NORWAY – Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream
A few interesting facts about Norway
It’s spectacularly scenic, I mean take a look at this guys! Lonely Planet says “it’s one of the most beautiful countries on earth.” Also known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun” it’s called Norsk by Norwegians. I would love to visit this country.
Norway is home to the Saami people (or Lapplanders as I grew up calling them) and is a Constitutional Monarchy, the current King is Harald the 5th. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Norway.
Way to go Norway! The hard part this week would be how to choose from such a huge range of delicious options? I settled on salmon as we all love it, and it was a huge hit!
Now Norway is one of those countries up from England that form Scandinavia (along with Denmark) where the Vikings came from. I always get these countries mixed up, what order they go in, but Norway is the one on the outside. See map.
Modern Norway ranks Number one in the world for quality of life and enjoys an extremely high standard of living. It is a very long wild fractured land, full of glaciers, fjords, jagged coastlines, 1000’s of islands and rugged mountains. It’s considerable length spanning so many latitudes makes it a huge biodiversity hotspot and wild life is abundant, both land and sea.
Some attractions are picturesque medieval towns and fantastical Stave churches, winter sports including dog-sledding, awesome scenery particularly the fjords, a World Heritage listed site, wildlife watching, Northern Lights watching and booming arts and cultural facilities. Not to mention the world’s most beautiful rail trip and ferry trip!
Moose, goose and reindeer
The cuisine has traditionally involved a lot of pickled, cured, smoked and preserved foods for the long cold dark winters obviously. Of course fish especially salmon and herring, but surprisingly not seafood, features heavily as does game such as moose, reindeer, goose and duck. There is a enormous variety of breads, dairy is very important and Norwegians are the second biggest coffee drinkers in the world.
To go with those coffees is a delicious array of cakes and baking. Cardamon, caraway and anise are popular flavours as are dill, juniper berries and also the native Lingonberries and poetically named Cloudberries. Smorbrod, or open sandwiches as we may incorrectly call them are traditional and an art form in themselves.
Not to forget a wide variety of aquavit, distilled liquor, commonly flavoured with cumin, caraway, anise, citrus and fennel. Uniquely Norwegian Aquavit is often aged and transported in old oak sherry casks, which mellows and intensifies the flavours. Plus beers, mead and ciders.
To make this, I adapted a recipe from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence
Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream sauce
- 1 tb olive oil
- 4 salmon fillets, boned if possible (I always skin ours as we hate fish skin)
- salt & fresh black pepper
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 bunch shallots/spring onions/scallions
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup pouring /lite cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/2 tsp plain flour
- 1/3 bunch dill
- 1 lemon, juice and grated rind
- 1-2 tb horseradish cream
- pinch chilli/red pepper flakes
- Heat large frypan with oil over medium heat. When hot, add the seasoned fillets, and fry to golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Steaks should still be a little soft and springy to touch. Remove and keep warm.
- Heat butter in a small saucepan, saute onion 1 minute. Deglaze with wine.
- In a small bowl whisk together all remaining ingredients, pour into pan and cook until thickened & reduced a little and heated through.
- Serve over salmon.
I made red cabbage to go with the salmon, buttered boiled potatoes with chopped fresh herbs and green beans. It was a good dish to have on a cooler night, and felt very Nordic! We all absolutely loved this dish – it was really delicious! Bunny especially loves salmon, so I can see I might get a request on her birthday for this dish . We rated this dish our 2nd highest score, 8/10 ( I think Bunny said 9 or 10!).
Feeling energetic I had also made a Norwegian Apple Cake flavoured with cardamon, but sadly we found this dry and a bit boring. It needed a lot more apples than I had on hand I think. Tasted nice but not great, even with vanilla ice-cream. Sadly disappointing. Ah well, that’s international cooking for you – you never know what you’ll end up with!
THE SEYCHELLES ISLANDS – Mandarine Chicken
First a few facts about the Seychelles
Shells and lots of ’em. Yeah sounds like seashells but actually is named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Finance Minister to Louis XV in 1750’s. Before that, Admiral Vasco da Gama named them The Admirantes Islands after himself. Colonised by the French and later the British, the Seychelles have the smallest population of any African country.
This archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1500km east of Africa, is renowned for fabulous beaches and stunning marine life. Unusually some of the 100 or so islands are made up of the worlds oldest and hardest granite (which makes for ultra clear water and fantastic beaches) the rest being more typical coral islands. Many are covered with luxuriant tropical rainforest and are uninhabited nature reserves.
To be found is strange and wonderful plant and animal life, like the jelly-fish tree, a pre-historic living fossil that, like the Wollemi Pine of Australia, exists in a genus all of it’s own. Not to forget the worlds’ heaviest seed pod, from the rare Coco de Mer Palm. Home to the largest sea-bird colony in the world, and the giant Aldabran Tortoise, the Seychelles are naturally fantastic for diving and snorkelling as well as bird watching. That’s if you can tear yourself away from dream beaches like this one!
Do you fancy Bat Curry? Seychellois cuisine
As you can imagine fish and fabulous seafood play a huge part in the cuisine, as do tropical island crops such as coconut and breadfruit which along with rice are the staple starch. Using a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, like mangos, citrus fruits, papaya, sweet potato, pumpkin and avocado, Seychellois food is rich, hot and spicy. Blending the flavours of not just the French and British but African, Indian and Chinese and marrying them with local produce to make an exciting cuisine.
A couple of local delicacies to ponder on – Bat Curry and Shark chutney! a condiment made by pounding dried shark meat with fried onions, garlic, spices and chilli…… Hmmm! Has anyone been brave enough to try them? Love to hear what they were like, from anyone who is lucky enough to have been to the glorious Seychelles. The closest I’ll ever get (to the Seychelles) is eating the dish my daughter made which was –
Mandarine Chicken (Serves 4)
- 600gm chicken thigh fillets
- 3-4 / 350g fresh mandarin segments
- 120 ml mandarin juice
- 120 ml chicken stock/broth
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp Korma/Seychelles curry paste (to make your own, see http://www.celtnet.org.uk)
- 1/2 tsp g cinnamon
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme/ 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 tbsp mango chutney
- 2 tbsp flaked/sliced almonds
- salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- Cut each chicken fillet into 2 -3 pieces, and place in a medium baking dish.
- Mix the chicken stock, orange juice, the chutney (chop the mango pieces if large). Add the curry paste, tamarind paste, cinnamon and thyme and pour over the chicken.
- Bake in oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Scatter the mandarin segments and almonds over chicken, baste with the pan juices at this stage and add a little water if it becomes too dry.
- Bake for about a further 5 – 10 minutes until chicken is just cooked.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice.
Once again we used a recipe from the comprehensive site : http://www.celtnet.org.uk and adapted it a little to suit us. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo for this one, but this is how it looked pretty much.
My husband who is not a fan of fruit with meat and my teenage son, thought using mandarin with chicken was a bit weird – but I reminded them of Duck A L’Orange. We found this dish unusual but very nice, the mandarin gave it a lovely freshness and lightness, it would make a good summer dish. We enjoyed our Seychellois meal and would make this again, so do try it too. It earned a high score 8/10.